Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

January 2012 Archives

Atlanta Teens Break Into CNN Newsroom to Check Facebook

Two teens broke into CNN's newsroom in Atlanta for a simple purpose: to check Facebook.

The culprits were both young. Francis Mutemwa is 17. Aldayne Fearon is 18.

The break-in occurred early in the morning. The duo allegedly snuck in by climbing a ledge from a nearby hotel. That granted them access to the CNN Newsroom and to its computers. Police arrived only to find the two checking their Facebook pages.

Dad Gets Restraining Order Against Son's 4th Grade Bully

When your kid comes home complaining of a bully, what do you do? Do you teach him to turn the other cheek? To throw a punch? Or do you request a bully restraining order?

Robert Casteel of southern California did the latter after his 10-year-old son Christopher came home last week frazzled. A classmate had pulled out a knife and threatened to "get [him] after school."

The bully's 5-day suspension wasn't enough, so Casteel obtained a restraining order.

Topless Woman Strips Down in Traffic, Slaps Bystander: PA Police

A Pennsylvania woman stripped down in the middle of a street and slapped a bystander who asked if she was okay.

The bizarre incident unfolded in the middle of the afternoon in peaceful Monongahela, PA. Motorists said the woman parked her car,  and got out -- topless.

She then began to walk down the middle of the street. At some point she took off her pants. She also threw her shoes at passing cars.

'Toxic Tush' Talk Show Brawl: Alleged Butt Injections Asst. Attacked

Corey Eubank, the Florida "Toxic Tush" assistant, was attacked on a taping of a Spanish-language talk show Wednesday.

Now Eubank has filed restraining orders against two women who came after him, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He accused Shaquanda Brown, 30, and her mother, Brunetta Brown, 60, of lunging at him, throwing a syringe at him and shouting anti-gay epithets in the melee.

In applying for the restraining order, Eubanks accused both women of harassing him repeatedly over the past several months, calling him more than 100 times and threatening him with violence.

City Repays Woman After Cops Ruined Her Medical Marijuana Plants

Taxpayers in Albuquerque, N.M. just bought themselves $3,100 worth of marijuana -- and not one of them gets a share.

Medical marijuana patient Toni Armijo is the sole recipient of the funds. She's being reimbursed for an August 2010 law enforcement incident that left her pot plants dead.

Who knew marijuana couldn't withstand a few hours in a paper bag?

FL Mans Saves Baby Alligator, Then His Wife Gets Him Arrested

What is it with people and alligators? Seriously. There's been another alligator arrest.

This time, Alexander Springer of Citra, Fla., was hauled in and charged with illegal possession of an alligator -- a second degree misdemeanor. He had no permit.

What he did have was an angry wife. She's the one who called police after he refused to remove the baby alligator from the spare bathtub.

A New York restaurant owner accused of sexually assaulting a man is dishing out a defense: He's too old and weak to grope.

Silvano Marchetto, 65, owner of the famous Da Silvano Italian restaurant in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, is fighting a federal lawsuit that alleges assault and battery, the New York Post reports.

The lawsuit describes two incidents in which Marchetto allegedly grabbed a younger man's genitals. But Marchetto's response to the suit describes himself as too decrepit to get away with such a dastardly deed.

Teen Calls 911 Over Her Mom's Loud, 'Disrespectful' Sex

A Florida teen called 911 to report an atrocious and mentally scarring "crime." She heard her mom having sex.

Did you just cringe? Or have mental flashbacks to similarly traumatizing events in your childhood?

The 15-year-old told officers that she "felt disrespected" by her 35-year-old mother. She also wanted police to take her to a Christian children's shelter.

Amish Leader Samuel Mullet Will Use Home Electricity to Get Out of Jail

The man accused of masterminding the Ohio Amish beard-cutting attacks made a request last week. Samuel Mullet wanted to be out on bail.

A judge declined to release Mullet on bond earlier in January. Electronic monitoring would be difficult because his Amish home had no electricity.

But now it seems Mullet is willing to concede. He would allow the installation of electronics in his home. This means he could wear an electronic monitoring device.

Baltimore Priest Arrested for Indecent Exposure in Porn Shop

Baltimore-area priest Father Mark Stewart Bullock was arrested last week after police found him half naked in the back of Bush River Books & Movies -- a porn shop. He was hauled in for indecent exposure -- a misdemeanor punishable with up to 3 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

When Rev. Joseph Barr later told parishioners about the priest in the porn shop, he assured them that "no adults or children from the parish or our parish school were involved."

Accused Wife Beater Says Ghost Punched, Strangled his Wife

Wisconsin man Michael F. West claims that a ghost beat his wife.

Unfortunately for West, "a ghost did it" just isn't credible. It has the same amount of believability as "the dog ate my homework."

In reality, West is the one who allegedly strangled his wife twice. He also reportedly punched her several times in the face when she tried to get to the phone.

Man Claims to be Tax Exempt 'Because I Live in Heaven'

Depending on your religious beliefs, you probably have a very specific view of "heaven." But most likely your version of heaven includes this: no taxes. That's why Florida man Russell Gentile, 40, claimed he didn't have to pay Uncle Sam. Why? Because he lives in heaven.

And the IRS has no jurisdiction over heaven. Which is true.

Unfortunately for Gentile, the IRS didn't exactly buy his argument. He lives in Florida, after all.

Gentile was taken into custody. He faces charges of obstruction of an IRS agent.

Make Your Own Currency, Spend 5 Years in Jail

What can you buy with a BerkShare? How about a Bay Buck?

Anything, apparently. A number of cities across the country have founded their own private currencies -- two of which go by the names above. The goal is to keep money in the community and encourage local spending.

The exchange rates are pretty friendly, too.

But is it legal? Can you make your own currency?

Zebra Bites Girl at Texas Safari Park

Texas has safari parks. A lot of them, actually. But that's beside the point -- the zebra-bites-girl incident is the way more interesting part of the story.

A rogue zebra attacked Meagan Sweatman this past June while she trolled through one of the aforementioned parks. The striped suspect poked its head through an open car window and chomped down on her shoulder.

It left a nasty hickey on her chest, too.

Is It Illegal for a Felon to Marry Another Felon?

Okay, it may seem like a silly question. But in some circles, it's a completely serious and valid inquiry. In fact, a user recently asked this very question over on FindLaw Answers.

That woman -- a convicted felon -- wanted to know if she can legally marry another felon. Her probation officer said no.

Was he right? Is it illegal for a felon to marry another felon?

The Top 10 Legally Weird Stories of the Year

Before January comes to a close, news outlets will continue to recount the year's top stories. But we've got something even better:

The year's most-clicked upon Legally Weird stories -- and my goodness, do you guys have some strange predilections.

If it involved sex or animals, you clicked. And if it involved bodily fluids, you went crazy. Luckily only one of the stories may have involved all three.

Can you figure out which one that is?

California Woman Offers Sex for McNuggets

Sing it with me: What would you do-ooo-ooo for a Klon-dike bar?

Just replace Klondike Bar with McNuggets, and you're ready for this story.

Khadijah Baseer, 31, was recently arrested on suspicion of prostitution outside a Burbank, Calif. McDonald's. She's been accused of offering sex for McNuggets.

Hopefully she asked for fries, too.

PA Couple Tries to Blow Up Car With Flaming Tampons

There are dozens of ways to blow up a car, but flaming tampons may be the most creative way yet.

Police in Metal Township, Penn. arrested Patricia and Quentin Deshong for allegedly carrying out such an attack earlier this month. The pair reportedly ambushed a green Ford Fusion and broke the car's windshield and windows; dented its body; and disconnected its hoses.

They also left blood on the front passenger seat.

Michigan Grandmother Assaulted at Chuck E. Cheese

A Michigan Chuck E. Cheese assault has created headlines. A 50-year-old grandmother was allegedly attacked in the kid-friendly establishment.

Why, you may wonder?

Well, the grandmother was apparently displeased with some of the foul language used by several other patrons. She was so fed up with it that she went over to tell them to control their swearing.

Amish Leader Samuel Mullet Remains in Jail on Beard-Cutting Charges

The accused ringleader of the Amish beard-cutting attacks will remain behind bars. A judge declined to release Samuel Mullet, 66.

And no, Mullet does not have the hairstyle reflective of his moniker.

Mullet and 11 other Amish men pled not guilty in federal court. They were charged with crimes over five separate beard-cutting attacks on Amish men in Ohio. It's believed the attacks were religiously charged.

Man Threatens to Eat Police, Their Families, Their Dogs

I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!

Okay, so maybe Paul Brock isn't quite so ... poetic. But police in Lafayette, Ind. do allege that he threatened to "hunt them down and eat them, their dogs and their entire families."

Yeah, he threatened to eat the police dogs.

After he kicked one of the dogs in the head -- twice.

A Manhattan teacher deserves an A for effort for trying to get out of work -- but an F for forging a fake jury summons that was filled with elementary spelling errors.

Mona Lisa Tello, 61, has agreed to retire from Manhattan's High School of Graphic Communication Arts after an internal investigation uncovered her fraud, the New York Daily News reports. She also faces criminal charges.

Prosecutors allege Tello forged a jury summons to get excused from 15 days of work in 2010 and 2011. Tello collected more than $3,300 in salary while playing hooky, the Daily News reports.

To justify her time off, Mona Lisa Tello turned in a fake jury summons, purportedly from a New Jersey courthouse. The summons apparently was never spell-checked.

Boy, 2, Blurts Out Fugitive Dad's Hiding Place to Police

Fugitive dad Valdet Gjeloshi was arrested in Florida after his two-year-old son ratted him out.

Aren't kids just adorable? Two-year-olds are just at that age where they talk without thinking. And they still have that annoying habit of telling the truth.

Gjeloshi was wanted on a probation violation charge for a battery. His wife originally told police that he wasn't at his home when they arrived. She gave officials a few alternative locations. That's when Gjeloshi's son stepped in.

FL Man Wears 'Crack Jacket' to Court to Face Drug Charges

Florida man Christopher Patterson is accused of trafficking Oxycodone and a serious fashion faux pas. Patterson showed up in court on January 6 wearing a "crack jacket."

The jacket, a casual hoodie, looks normal from afar. Upon closer scrutiny, it reveals that the cute little cartoons emblazoned on the hoodie are anything but innocent.

The sweatshirt has drawings of baking soda, spoons, and an open flame. It depicts making crack. It also has the slogan "Stack Paper Say Nothing." 

The cartoonish sweatshirt even has images of stacks of bills. The zipper of the stylish garment is in the shape of a gun.

A New York mother has been fired from her job at a school after she faked her daughter's death to enjoy an extended spring break.

Joan Barnett, 58, worked as a parent coordinator at a Manhattan high school, and took a spring break trip to Costa Rica in 2010, the New York Daily News reports.

Barnett apparently wanted to extend her break so badly, she forged her daughter's death certificate in order to get time off for bereavement.

Barnett ended up spending 2 1/2 weeks on vacation in Costa Rica. Her forged death certificate, however, did not make the grade.

TSA Cupcakegate: Feds Defend Cupcake Confiscation

We have an explanation!

The TSA's official blog -- an amazing place to calm (or stoke) your airport security rage -- has finally addressed TSA Cupcakegate. The latest in confectionary scandals occurred last month when security at a Las Vegas airport confiscated Rebecca Hains' cupcake.

Fortunately, Hains did not lose her cupcake in vain. No, she lost it so you and I can have a better explanation of the TSA's 3-1-1 rule.

A Florida woman apparently hates the TV show "Judge Judy" so much, she attacked a man with a hammer. Janet Knowles, 62, of Jupiter, Fla., was arrested in connection with the "Judge Judy" attack, The Palm Beach Post reports.

A domestic violence call led police to Knowles' house about 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The alleged victim, a 65-year-old man who was not identified, told police he was relaxing in his recliner, watching "Judge Judy" on television, when Knowles for some reason just snapped, a police affidavit states.

Knowles got "upset with Judge Judy" and allegedly struck the man in the head with a hammer, the affidavit states.

Some motorists in Illinois no longer have to make a run to the supermarket to get some grub. Thanks to a new "roadkill bill," they can just cook the carcass of whatever animal they run over.

Illinois' so-called "roadkill bill" took effect in October, the Huffington Post reports. The law allows anyone with a furbearer license to salvage roadkill for pelts or food.

With the roadkill bill now in effect, Illinois joins more than a dozen other states that explicitly allow citizens to collect and eat roadkill -- though some other states limit their law's application to larger animals like deer or bears, the Post reports.

Cat Litter Ad's 'Smell Test' Stinks, NY Judge Rules

Clorox's cat litter ad smells -- at least according to federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

The company has been ordered to stop showing commercials for its Fresh Step cat litter. Judge Rakoff says the "smell test" used to support the ad's claim is unreliable.

The disputed commercial depicts the effectiveness of carbon versus baking soda. Clorox uses carbon in its litter. Two beakers are shown in the TV spot. One has baking soda, the other has carbon. A green mist is used as a visualization of an unpleasant smell. The beaker with the carbon easily gets rid of the mist. The beaker with baking soda does not.

Drunk 'Darth Vader' Defeated by Cop's Pepper Spray

There are a few things about the Sith that every Star Wars fan should know: Darth Vader would not get drunk. Darth Vader also wouldn't be defeated by pepper spray. After all, he controls the power of the force.

Unfortunately, 28-year-old Floridian Michael Eugene Cole isn't actually Darth Vader. He's just a man wearing a Darth Vader mask who tried to assault a police officer.

Cole was walking close to a construction site at around 3 a.m. when he encountered a police officer. The officer told him to leave. Cole didn't. He swore and tried to assault the officer.

Then things got interesting.

Woman Rubs Butt, Tries to Urinate on $30M Museum Painting

In an incident befitting a very drunk Scrooge McDuck, a woman last week assaulted a $30 million painting located in Denver's Clyfford Still Museum.

Carmen Tisch, 36, drunkenly dropped trou in front of the 9 1/2-foot by 13-foot canvas and then proceeded to rub her butt on the painting. She then slid down the abstract masterpiece and urinated on herself when she reached the floor.

The painting remained urine free, but was marred by visible scratches.

What goes into your body when you Do the Dew? Apparently, enough chemicals to dissolve a mouse into goo, Mountain Dew's manufacturers claim.

Lawyers for PepsiCo revealed that little-known fact about Mountain Dew's secret formula in court documents filed in Wisconsin, The Record reports.

The disclosure was part of a man's lawsuit against PepsiCo. Ronald Ball claims he got a mouthful of dead mouse when he drank from a can of Mountain Dew in 2009, according to The Record. Ball's lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

A North Carolina man faces felony charges after allegedly trying to pay for his Walmart purchases with a fake $1 million bill.

Police say Michael Fuller, 53, of Lexington, N.C., tried to buy a microwave, a vacuum cleaner, and other items at a Walmart in November, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. His total rang up to $476.

Fuller allegedly handed a $1 million bill to the cashier, insisting it was real -- but store managers didn't buy it. They called police, and Fuller was arrested.

The 5 Most Outrageous Lawsuits of 2011

Americans are litigious. We certainly like to enforce our legal rights. We also like to make sure somebody pays up when they wrong us. Some of the most outrageous lawsuits of 2011 include sex, crime, and flying body parts.

Below is our compilation list of FindLaw's top 5 weirdest -- and wonkiest -- lawsuits to hit the news:

Top 5 Ice Cream Truck Crimes of 2011

Ice cream truck drivers were not all that friendly in 2011 -- and neither were their customers. Ice cream truck crime was undoubtedly rampant last year, moving beyond the typical robbery.

Ice cream truck lovers were treated to tales of drunk ice cream men and violent customers. They learned of bizarre turf wars and prescription drug rings. And hopefully, they finally realized that ice cream trucks aren't necessarily for children.

Though ice cream truck crime occurred far and wide, it was these 5 stories that solidified its status as one of 2011's weirdest trends.

Facebook Nabs Thief Who Proposed With Stolen Ring

Jewelry may be the way to some hearts, but a stolen engagement ring will just get you dumped. And stuck in jail.

Ryan Jarvis, 25, popped into a Zales jewelry store in Burlington, Vt.

on Monday and then illegally popped out with a white gold diamond ring. He then popped the question to a woman willing to say "yes."

Jarvis would have gotten away with the ruse if the woman hadn't predictably posted photos of the ring on Facebook.